Category Archives: Forestry

The real worst and best cases of climate change

What do you want? The planet Venus? The current degraded Earth? Or a better world we know how to create?

What if it's a big hoax and we create a better world for nothing?
Joel Pett, Lexington Herald Leader, 18 March 2012, The cartoon seen ’round the world

Mostly I post about solar and wind power winning, which is what I think is happening. But sometimes it’s worth a reminder of what could happen if we do nothing about climate change, and I posted on my facebook page a story about that. Which actually didn’t go far enough to the real worst case. Nonetheless, that story has been attacked by numerous parties of all political and scientific and unscientific stripes for being too doom and gloom. Yet none of the attackers bothered to mention a best case beyond “the same world we have now”. I have news for you: the world we have now is an ecological catastrophe, and we can do a lot better. So here’s the real worst case, the current case, which is far from the best of all possible worlds, and the real best case, as I see it. Plus what we can do to head for the best case.

grinning fossilized skull

First, the story I posted: David Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine, 9 July 2017, The Uninhabitable Earth: Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think. Notice that word “could”, which a lot of his critics seem to have ignored. He didn’t say “will”, and he clearly labeled what he was presenting as worst case scenarios.

In case anybody thinks he was making any of that stuff up, Wallace-Wells has also linked to an annotated version with footnotes for every substantial assertion. The annotated version notes at the top: Continue reading

Duke Energy solar: NC, SC, and now Florida

Duke’s new solar farms in Florida echo what Duke was already doing three and a half years ago when an independent study concluded more solar power in North Carolina would save utility ratepayers tens of millions of dollars annually.


Duke solar power farm in Perry, Florida, courtesy Duke Energy

John Downey, Charlotte Business Journal, 23 October 2013, Study: Solar benefits outweigh costs in NC,

It notes the gains from solar projects — such as lower transmission and distribution costs, avoided emissions, lower losses of electricity in transmission. The study calculates that such benefits outweigh the costs by 30 percent to 40 percent.

The utility buying most of that solar power in North Carolina is none other than Duke Energy. Parcel 25-01S-11E-1090700.0000 In Florida, Duke just got approval from the Suwannee Board of County Commissioners to build a 62-acre 8.8 MW solar plant next to its Suwannee Power Plant, while shutting down some old natural gas generating turbines, and keeping some newer ones going.

As we learned only a week before at a meeting about the Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) required by the Florida legislature, nitrogen runoff from fertilizers is a huge problem in the Suwannee River Basin, and needs to be reduced 80-90% from every source. Duke Energy (or even FPL) could buy power from distributed solar farms on 1030 more acres in Suwannee County and produce enough power to shut down the rest of its gas turbines at that Suwannee River facility, while generating enough power for twice the number of households in Suwannee County. That would remove power plant emissions and use of cooling water, while helping solve the BMAP problem.

No, I’m not recommending cutting down trees for solar panels. Rooftop solar power and solar panels on marginal farmland would make far more sense. As even Duke says, solar panels produce “little to no waste”, which means no fertilizer or pesticide runoff from them. Graze cows, sheep, or goats around them, and the farmer has income from both the solar panels and the livestock, while still needing no pesticides to control weeds. That’s what Sandy Hill Solar of Elm City, North Carolina does, and the utility buying their power is Duke Energy.

Duke by February 2015 had expanded its solar buying into South Carolina, and by October 2015 announced a new solar farm near Perry, Florida, Duke’s second such project in Florida, and operational in Perry by September 2016. Funny how solar plants can go online in less than a year, unlike the three-year-plus permitting process of interstate natural gas pipelines.

The Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) lists numerous studies about the cost-effectiveness of solar power, including that North Carolina 2013 report, now with a copy on the LAKE website. SEIA also lists one for Virginia which is on the MDV-SEIA website, and now also has a copy on the LAKE website.

For Georgia SEIA lists the testimony of GSEIA before the Georgia Public Service Commission in 2013. See also other testimony at that same GA-PSC session, which resulted in GA-PSC requiring Georgia Power to buy twice as much solar power as it wanted to. GA-PSC did the same again in 2015, which was also the year Georgia Power finally stopped its dozen-year-long objections to fixing a 1970s law, and actively backed a 2015 version of that solar financing bill, which passed unanimously in the Georgia Senate and was signed by the same Georgia governor who had accepted campaign finance contributions from multiple pipeline company PACs. After the bill became law, Georgia Power started selling solar power.

Georgia Power’s parent company Southern Company is also installing solar power in the Florida panhandle through its subsidiary Gulf Power, including three projects at military bases totalling 120 MW.

All that is without even comparing solar power to natural gas pipelines such as Sabal Trail. I did that comparison, and I’m still watiing for somebody to show me any flaws in my arithmetic, which shows that FPL’s ratepayers, now stuck with a $3.2 billion bill for the Sabal Trail boondoggle, could get five times as much electricity through solar power at that price.

For Florida SEIA lists only a very old (2003) study with a broken link, which can be found as a google book, but now would mostly be worthwhile as a museum piece. Duke’s own actions in Florida in 2016 and 2017 indicate Duke Energy knows the sun is rising even on the Sunshine State.

Sure, Duke is going too slow (although not as slow as FPL). Duke’s “strategic, long-range plan to install 35 megawatts of universal solar by 2018, and up to 500 megawatts in the state by 2024” is pocket change for peanuts. Stanford Professor Mark Z. Jacobson’s research project has spelled out what Florida (and each other U.S. state) needs in solar, wind, and water power to run everything, depicted on thesolutionsproject.org and backed up by a hundred-plus-page report.

The people of Florida are demanding more solar power. Tens of millions of dollars in fossil fuel and utility money didn’t convince the voters of Florida to support a fake solar amendment last November. The sun is rising, even on the Sunshine State. All the dirty dollars and all the bought politicians can’t stop it.

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Investigative reporting costs money, for open records requests, copying, web hosting, gasoline, and cameras, and with sufficient funds we can pay students to do further research. You can donate to LAKE today!

Sabal Trail destruction at Bell property, Mitchell Co., GA 2016-09-13

See for yourself what Jeb Bell was talking about to GPB, in these videos he sent of the destruction Sabal Trail is doing on his property. His father, James Bell, says it started immediately after a small protest Monday, and is plowing through gopher tortoise burrows, rare pitcher plants, large pine trees bulldozed and burned, and today within 300 yards of his house. James Bell the elder will be at the US 84 Withlacoochee River bridge 9AM this Saturday, September 17th 2016, to join the WWALS Watershed Coalition protest against Sabal Trail and the Dakota Access Pipeline, which are now owned by the same companies. That’s between Quitman and Valdosta, GA; see you there.

Sam Whitehead, GPB News, 15 September 2016, Sabal Trail Pipeline Plows Through Southwest Georgia, Local Opposition, Continue reading

Videos: Community Policies, Comprehensive Plan Workshop #5 @ SGRC 2016-04-18

One video for all the fifth workshop on Community Facilities & Services and Intergovernmental Coordination for the Comprehensive Plan Update for Greater Lowndes County.

Here’s a video playlist: Continue reading

Community Policies, Comprehensive Plan Workshop #5 @ SGRC 2016-04-18

6PM tonight at SGRC, fifth Workshop, as Ariel Godwin reminded us five days ago:

At our next workshop, we will finish reviewing the Issues and Opportunities for the Greater Lowndes Comprehensive Plan. We have two sections to review: Community Facilities & Services and Intergovernmental Coordination. I am attaching the Issues from those sections as they currently stand.

Since this is our second-to-last workshop, in the interest of time, I am attaching Continue reading

Videos: Lowndes Comprehensive Plan Workshop @ SGRC 2016-04-04

Here are links to the LAKE videos of the 4 March 2016 Workshop on the Lowndes County Comprehensive Plan Update, followed by a video playlist. The next Workshop is 6PM tonight.

Here’s a video playlist:


Videos: Lowndes Comprehensive Plan Workshop
Workshop, 2016 Lowndes County Comprehensive Plan Update (SGRC),
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
327 West Savannah Ave., Valdosta, GA 31601, 4 April 2016.

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Videos: Community Wellness and Housing, Comprehensive Plan Workshop #3 @ SGRC 2016-03-21

Here are LAKE videos of the third Workshop of 21 March 2016 about the Lowndes County Comprehensive Plan Update.

The fourth Workshop is tonight, 5-7PM, at SGRC, 327 W. Savannah Avenue Valdosta, Georgia. Here’s the current draft of March 30, 2016, which resulted from that third workshop. Come help us update it!

Videos: Comprehensive Plan Update Workshop #2 @ SGRC 2016-03-07

Very interesting input on the second Workshop on updating the Lowndes County Comprehensive Plan, including quite a bit about agriculture, rivers, and roads. Educational issues are in the Update, including the underlying issue: poverty.

See also the invitation with a link to the Workbook draft used at that meeting.

Here are links to the LAKE videos of the two main topics, followed by a video playlist. Continue reading

Lowndes Comprehensive Plan Workshop @ SGRC 2016-04-04

The current draft is dated March 30, 2016. Come Monday and help update it further!

Economic Development, II. Issues and Opportunities The next workshop for the Joint 2016 Lowndes County and Cities of Dasher, Hahira, Lake Park, Remerton, and Valdosta Comprehensive Plan Update will be on:

Monday, April 4, 2016
5:00 p.m. — 7:00 p.m.
Southern Georgia Regional Commission
327 W. Savannah Avenue
Valdosta, Georgia

We will continue reviewing the Issues and Opportunities.

The current draft of the plan is available at: Continue reading

Issues and Opportunities in Comprehensive Plan Workshop @ SGRC 2016-03-21

This Reminder came in today, refreshingly explicitly mentioning agriculture. Note the different location, this time at the Health Dept. office after the Planning Commission meeting.

The next workshop for the 2016 Greater Lowndes Comprehensive Plan Update will be:

Monday, March 21, 2016
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Lowndes County South Health District Administrative Office
325 W. Savannah Avenue
Valdosta, Georgia

At this workshop we will Continue reading